Sian Harris 

Audio Designer

In our interviews and online films, you’ll meet lots of different people with lots of different jobs! BT has been finding out how technology is changing jobs and what skills people need to make the most of it.

What I do

I’m an audio designer at Criterion, who develop videogames for publishers like EA.

How I got my job

I studied music and sound technology at Portsmouth University. While I was there I did a gap year designing the audio for a student-run indie developer that was funded by the university. I then got a job with Criterion in the QA (quality assurance) department, testing games for audio bugs. I got to know the audio team really well and moved on from that position into an audio designer role.

What I love about my job

I love that I get to work with a team of extremely talented people. I also just love everything about audio, so getting to create sound effects on a daily basis is great. Also, I’m a huge Star Wars fan, so it’s awesome getting to work with its iconic sounds.

What is difficult about my job

It’s quite specialised, so there’s a lot of audio software that I’ve needed to learn. I’m still learning now! EA has its own game development tool called Frostbite, so I’ve had to learn that, too. Everyone has an opinion on what they think something should sound like, so sometimes it can be tricky to make everyone happy.

What skills I need

Be passionate. Be analytical – what games do you think sound the best and why? Being able to pick out and describe which parts of a sound you think work or need improvement will help you become a better designer.

How I use technology in my job

I mostly use software. I have one set of programmes for creating sound effects, then I use Frostbite to put them in the game. I also have a modular synthesiser that I use to create sounds.

How that has changed over my career

Different places use different programmes, so I’ve had to constantly learn new ones. The software is always being updated and improved, so you have to learn to adapt to new versions and new features.

Where young people should start if they want to do the job, too

Look for courses that specialise in sound design. Practise making your own sound effects at home – Reaper is a great tool that offers a long free trial and many professionals use it.